By Aubrey Whelan and Miriam Hill, The Philadelphia Inquirer –
PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter apologized in person Friday to the woman who took a sucker punch in the face from a city police officer at festivities after last weekend’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.
Nutter met with Aida Guzman of Chester, Pa., in his office and told her he had been “horrified” by the incident, which was captured on video and posted on YouTube, and which prompted viral views and widespread outrage over the last week.
The video, taken Sunday, shows Lt. Jonathan Josey punching Guzman so forcefully that she falls to the ground. Josey then leads her away, her face bloodied.
Nutter had already issued a public apology Thursday on behalf of the city at a news conference. On Friday, he met with Guzman and her lawyer, Enrique Latoison. The meeting lasted about 10 to 15 minutes, Nutter spokesman Mark McDonald said.
Latoison said Nutter hugged Guzman and gave a “heartfelt, sincere apology.”
Guzman “was very emotional about it,” the lawyer said. “She really appreciates it from the bottom of her heart.”
Latoison said that he was not sure whether Guzman would file suit against the city, but that she would cooperate with the district attorney’s office if criminal charges were filed against Josey.
An Internal Affairs investigation into the incident is ongoing, district attorney’s office spokeswoman Tasha Jamerson said. Whether the police will turn the case over to the district attorney’s office is still up in the air, she said.
Guzman, a mother of five and a housekeeper who works three jobs, is still in pain from the incident, Latoison said. She had a split lip Friday.
Outside City Hall on Friday afternoon, she waved away calls to speak to protesters.
About a dozen people gathered at noon on the east side of City Hall to protest the incident. Carrying signs in Spanish and English that read, “We are all Aida,” the protesters spoke out against what some said was widespread police brutality.
“I think we live in a city where police brutality has been part and parcel,” said Berta Joubert, who helped organize the protest through Facebook. “This is the city that bombed itself.”
Rosalie Sotomayor said she wanted the police officers in the video who were seen near Guzman to be investigated, too. “We demand charges for all the police standing by,” she said.
Guzman, 39, was initially charged with disorderly conduct; police said they believed she had thrown water at a group of officers. Those charges were dropped Wednesday.
Police announced Thursday that Josey, 39, would be fired. He is serving a 30-day suspension with pay with intent to dismiss.
Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said this week that he was “deeply troubled” by the video and that it was “difficult to justify” the actions of the decorated 19-year veteran of the force.